“Keeping guys healthy through the first seven games is always a huge thing for us,” said St. Francis Coach Jim Bonds, whose team went 6-5 last season, advancing to the first round of the CIF Southern Section Western Division playoffs after tying for second in league with a 1-2 mark.
As has become a staple in the Golden Knights’ schedule, they will begin their year with a trio of Pacific League opponents, beginning on Sept. 11 at Arcadia before a home opener against Crescenta Valley in the annual "Battle of Foothill Blvd." and then going back on the road against Burroughs.
“I think we’ve got some of the best teams in the area that we can play,” Bonds said.
Crescenta Valley travels to face St. Francis on Sept. 18 after putting together a 9-3 season a year ago, one that Bonds believes the Falcons will build on.
“CV is gonna be a lot better,” Bonds said.
A week later, on Sept. 25, St. Francis faces a Burroughs team that it has never lost to, but one that has traditionally played the Golden Knights close season after season.
“That’s been a close game almost every year,” Bonds said. “We haven’t lost to them, but it’s always been a nailbiter. They’re looking to get that first win.”
Thereafter, St. Francis returns home for three straight games, with the first two coming against Rio Mesa and then El Rancho, teams that combined for a dismal 3-17 record a year ago. The El Rancho game falls on Thursday, Oct. 8.
On Oct. 16, however, the competition truly steps up as St. Francis hosts Serra League-foe Sherman Oaks Notre Dame. The traditional power and former Mission League rival went 11-1 last season.
The following week, the Golden Knights travel to Los Angeles Valley College to face Loyola.
Then, on Oct. 30, St. Francis opens up league play when it hosts St. Paul, before traveling to both Alemany, the reigning champ, and Chaminade.
As Bonds is quick to point out, avoiding traveling to play at St. Paul is always welcome, but having two of three league games on the road is most assuredly a negative.
“When you have three league games and two of them are on the road, that makes it tough,” Bonds said. “Every place in the Mission League is tough.”
With St. Francis’ fall semester beginning Aug. 19, the Golden Knights begin fall practice on Aug. 15.